Peripheral neuropathy, or diabetic peripheral neuropathy, is a common complication of diabetes that affects the nerves in the feet and lower legs. Severe cases of neuropathy result in a total loss of feeling in the lower extremities, and even moderate cases can make it difficult to move around. So, does that mean peripheral neuropathy and exercise are incompatible?
If you’ve ever questioned whether or not exercise is good for managing neuropathy pain or wondered what the best exercise for neuropathy is, a 2014 study that was conducted included the importance of exercise for treatment. Below, we’ll discuss how exercise affects peripheral neuropathy, answer some of your most common exercise questions, and list some of the best exercises for people with peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy and exercise: what you need to know
Peripheral neuropathy symptoms are different for everyone but often include numbness, pain, or sensitivity in the feet and lower legs. As the condition progresses, some people also experience muscle weakness, paralysis, and a host of other symptoms that can make it difficult to simply get through the day — let alone to get some quality exercise in. However, physical activity is an important part of managing neuropathy.
So, does exercise help diabetic neuropathy? It definitely has its benefits. Getting enough exercise can help you better control your blood glucose levels and manage your diabetes — which, in turn, can help prevent neuropathy from developing or getting worse.
Of course, there are many other excellent reasons to exercise. Consistent physical activity can:
- Improve blood flow, especially to the feet and legs
- Prevent muscle wasting and build strength
- Keep blood pressure under control
- Lead to better sleep
- Improve your overall health
Sounds great, right? But before you jump feet-first into any new exercise routine, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you stay safe during physical activity.
1. Get your doctor’s input on new exercise routines
Whether you plan to start hitting the gym every day or want to drastically increase the time that you spend being physically active, it’s imperative to speak to your doctor before making any changes to your exercise routine.
Peripheral neuropathy can seriously affect your ability to exercise, especially during the late stages of the condition. If you are experiencing numbness or loss of sensation, you may inadvertently harm yourself during exercise. So, always speak to your healthcare provider first to ensure that you stay safe during exercise.
2. Remember, not all exercises are appropriate for your needs
If your doctor gives you the all-clear to exercise, remember that there are still certain types of activity you should avoid. Long-distance walking or running and highly strenuous or high-impact activities all have the potential to cause significant damage.
Is walking good for neuropathy? The answer is a resounding yes. One of the best exercises you can do is to take short, brisk walks throughout the day. Swimming, cycling, bodyweight exercises, and more are all viable alternatives to more strenuous activities such as running and weightlifting.
3. Be mindful of your foot health
Diabetes and diabetic neuropathy can cause serious problems for your feet — and that can be a complication when it comes to exercise. For the best results, it’s important to make sure that you have the right socks and shoes before you begin your exercise routine.
Comfortable, well-fitted shoes can help reduce stress on your feet and legs, so diabetic shoes are an absolute must if you’re going to be exercising. Additionally, moisture-wicking, antibacterial, and seamless socks — like Viasox non-binding diabetic socks — can bring comfort during a workout and aid in preventing infections and other foot problems.
4. Don’t push yourself too hard
No matter your exercise routine or fitness level, it’s best not to push yourself too hard. This is especially true if you haven’t always maintained exercise habits in the past. Start with less strenuous exercises or with a decreased amount of physical activity and go from there.
5. Check your feet regularly
Always check your feet before and after you exercise. Be on the lookout for red areas, calluses, ulcers, wounds, dry skin, or any other indication that you are experiencing foot problems. Pay particular attention to the bottom of your feet, especially if you have been doing cardio exercise such as walking or biking.
7 great exercises for peripheral neuropathy
Is walking good exercise for neuropathy? It’s one of the best ways to get your exercise in! If walking just isn’t for you, however, here are seven other exercises that you can try:
- Attend an aerobics exercise class
- Go swimming or participate in water aerobics
- Try out a stationary bicycle or take a bicycle ride around your neighborhood
- Do gentle stretching exercises
- Participate in at-home balance training with exercises such as calf raises and leg raises
- Build strength at home with chair squats and other bodyweight exercises
- Take a yoga class
Common exercise questions
Is it possible to exercise for people with peripheral neuropathy?
Yes. People with peripheral diabetic neuropathy can still exercise, though they may have to take extra care to prevent accidents or injuries from occurring.
Does exercise help peripheral neuropathy?
Yes. A sedentary lifestyle is more likely to cause pain and exacerbate your neuropathy. Not only does exercise help combat neuropathy and diabetic pain, but it is also good for maintaining a healthy weight, building strength and muscle, and improving your mood.
Is walking good for peripheral neuropathy?
Does walking make neuropathy worse? Even though diabetic neuropathy often affects the feet, the answer is no — walking is very good for neuropathy and managing neuropathic pain. Walking and other exercises can increase circulation, build strength, and help you manage your neuropathy more effectively.
Enjoy better exercise with Viasox
Getting the proper amount of exercise can be difficult if your feet aren’t taken care of. That’s why our team at Viasox is proud to provide amazing diabetic socks to help protect and comfort your feet when you’re on the go. Our socks are a must-have for anyone diagnosed with diabetes, neuropathy, or other foot problems.
Made from comfortable materials such as cotton, polyester, and lycra, our diabetic socks and compression socks are designed to offer the ultimate stretch and support. Whether you’re after a fun and funky pattern to show off your unique style or you’re searching for a more classic look, we can help you find the perfect pair of socks. Visit us online today or reach out to our friendly team for more help.